With sunny blue skies Toronto welcomed the beginning of Pride Week at City Hall today during the lunch hour with many of the city council taking part. The annual event brings millions of visitors to Toronto, the site of North America's third largest Pride Parade.
Councillor Wong-Tam spoke of the importance of both the week's celebrations and the flag itself as she welcomed the world to Toronto. Several key players in Ontario politics were also on hand today including NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo. It was noted that there have been recent positive additions to the law in Ontario that gives more rights to the LGBT community, including the right for students to have school clubs for gay/straight alliances. This includes Catholic schools who had fought for the new legislature to fail.
Mayor Rob Ford stated on Friday that he had prior commitments and would not be taking part in the raising of the Pride Flag for the second year in a row. His brother Councillor Doug Ford was also not in attendance. When Councillor Carroll ended the official announcement saying his name there was a wave of boos and shouts of 'where is our mayor' from the crowd. Several city residents said that they were disgusted with the actions of the mayor calling him homophobic. For one woman the mayor's no-show was a final straw saying that she hoped that the people in Toronto would wake up and make sure that someone else would be elected in the next election. Not wanting to reveal her name she said, "Our city is more than sporting events, we need a mayor that supports everyone not just the rich and athletes."
Despite Ford's absence today's event was a positive one for the city. The gathering was the largest ever for the flag raising and including children from a local school who happily waved their Pride flags.